Standing at 6'5" and having to cut down to 265 pounds (he walks around at about 275-280), Jeremy "The Pain Train" Holm is not going to be easy to overlook. And the more wins he racks up on the regional amateur scene, the more of a reputation he is getting as a legit heavyweight talent. This native of Libby, Montana has now lived for several years in Gastonia, North Carolina (or "The Gas House" as some of us residents refer to it....lol) and began his MMA training there. I first saw Jeremy compete in his debut last June in Charlotte, making short work of a local Charlotte heavyweight and impressing the crowd with his ground control and ability to put his opponent away. In the months since then, he has become the Fightlab, ACF, Fit Factory and ISKA amateur MMA heavyweight champion and has quickly become one of the most successful amateur MMA fighters in the Carolinas.
More after the jump:
Rich Wyatt: Tell us a little about your team. Where do you currently train and how did you get started?
Jeremy Holm: It all started at RHEK (Ryan Hoover's gym in Gastonia). It's a funny story, actually. I had taken my daughter to see the movie "Kung Fu Panda" and I saw that they were doing an event at the gym where they were giving out free Gis so I took her there. That's where I met Jeff Jimmo and I started training jiu-jitsu with him the next day. After I had been training there for about eight or nine months I also started doing strength and conditioning training at Chris Frye's gym in Charlotte. And most recently I've also started doing some boxing training with Phil at Renegade Boxing in Gastonia. So I'd say now I spend a majority of my time at Chris Frye's place but I still train jiu-jitsu at RHEK with Jeff and work on my boxing at Renegade Boxing.
Rich Wyatt: What was your combat sports background prior to beginning your MMA training?
Jeremy Holm: There really wasn't much background. I wrestled throughout school but I wasn't wildly competitive with it. I came up in a small town in Montana and had about 300 people in my high school. (Laughs) There wasn't a whole lot to do so we often ended up getting into fights. There just wasn't a lot for guys to do, I guess. And you'd think that people wouldn't mess with me as much because of my size but actually the opposite was true so I had won a lot of fights in the past even though I didn't really have any training.
Rich Wyatt: You began competing about 9 months ago and have stayed really active, going 7-0. How have you improved in your first year as an amateur MMA fighter?
Jeremy Holm: Well, if you watched me in training then and now you'd probably say that my Muay Thai or my boxing has improved. Mostly, though, I've become stronger and more aggressive. I'll confess that I don't have great technique, but I've made a lot of improvement with my cardio and physical conditioning. My basic instinct, though, is still to grab a hold of my opponent, take them to the ground and beat the shit out of them! (Laughs)
Rich Wyatt: Last weekend you added the ISKA amateur MMA heavyweight championship to your resume. Congratulations on that victory. Tell us a little about that fight.
Jeremy Holm: That fight was against a really tough guy, Marlone Smith, who was 6-0 coming into that match. Marlone is about 6'8" and is easily 265 pounds. I had seen him before so I knew a little about him coming into the fight. I didn't see him as a guy that had a lot of technique, but I saw him as more like myself and I thought that I might be able to pick him apart. In the first round I mounted him and worked some ground and pound. In the second he got hold of me with a suplex and did a good job of driving me to the ground. He's a humungous guy but he couldn't put me away. In the third I got some nice shots off against him while standing and had my way on the ground. It was basically a well matched fight with two brutes brawling.
Rich Wyatt: What do you currently do for a living and how do you like to spend the free time that you have?
Jeremy Holm: I'm a communications engineer and I like to train mostly but I do have a little girl that I love spending time with. I've always enjoyed riding motorcycles and try to take my Harley up to the Blue Ridge Parkway when I can. I've also always liked playing drums.
Rich Wyatt: What's next for you? Any plans to turn pro within the next year or are you going to continue to build experience on the amateur scene?
Jeremy Holm: I used to complain about wanting to hurry and turn pro because there have been guys that I've beaten that have already gone pro. But I do realize that a lot of pros out there do have more time to devote to training than I do so I'm not pushing it too fast. I've talked with a group of people that I really trust, guys like Kenny Letts and my manager Cornbread (Michael Allen) and I'm taking their advice. When they say it's the right time then I'll be ready. I love fighting and I'm going to listen to those guys that have experience and have seen guys turn pro before they were ready. I still have a lot to learn but going pro is something that I'm really looking forward to.
Rich Wyatt: Are there any heavyweights out there in particular that you'd like to fight?
Jeremy Holm: Not really. Looking at the field of amateurs regionally, I've already fought a lot of the guys that I knew I would eventually have to face. I fought Marlone and he was 6-0 at the time. I beat Nick Breeden, who wrestled at Ohio State. I think to know where you stand in this game you need to train and spar with good guys. I've been fortunate to train with fighters like Josh Lening and others. I really don't know who else is out there to challenge me as an amateur. It may be a situation where I am forced to go pro. I'll let Cornbread make those calls.
Rich Wyatt: Who came up with your nickname, "The Pain Train"?
Jeremy Holm: (Laughs) A.J. Foard, a guy I trained with at RHEK, came up with that. It came from a character on Seinfeld, this old man who trained Jerry and would say "I'm handing out tickets on the Pain Train!" It just kind of stuck. I can't say I love it but I don't hate it either.
Rich Wyatt: Large heavyweights have always existed in combat sports. But in recent years MMA fans have seen a dramatic increase in the number of skilled heavyweights that push the 265 pound limit. What are your thoughts on the current state of the heavyweight division?
Jeremy Holm: I think it's great. I've always been a big guy and I've always heard the old adages like "The bigger they are the harder they fall." I think that some of those old stereotypes are going away somewhat. The biggest problem for me is that I do have a hard time finding guys my size to train with. With new training techniques, though, bigger guys are better able to develop their skills and they are making an impact on the sport. It is also true, though, that sometimes guys can get used to becoming overly dependent on brute strength and size so that they don't develop proper technique. But if you do find yourself facing a guy that's pushing 280 pounds and has real skill, you'd better be ready.
Rich Wyatt: Thanks for taking the time to talk with MMA For Real. Are there any sponsors that you'd like to thank or mention?
Jeremy Holm: I'd like to say thanks to a lot of the folks that help me: Chris Frye, Jeff Jimmo, Phil at Renegade Boxing, Ryan Overcash, Marc Corum and Ricky Rainey. They help me get ready for my fights. I'd also like to mention Brandon Brilhart, my cutman, and say thanks to No Quarter.